Monday, February 25, 2013

PantheaCon 2013

The 19th Annual PantheaCon was held February 15–18, 2013 (President’s Day Weekend) at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, CA. PantheaCon is the biggest event that Jo-Ann and I go to, with roughly 2400 attendees converging on the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose. With over 400 presentations spread out over the better part of four days, there really is something for everyone. As a Pagan networking opportunity, it has no rival in the US.
For the last few years, my wife Jo-Ann and I had gotten into the habit of arriving the day before PantheaCon starts so that we would be rested before it started. Catching up on sleep during PantheaCon is almost impossible, unless people are willing to knowingly miss out on part of the excitement. Given how full the parking lot next to the back entrance of the hotel is when we arrive, it seems that many others think the same way!
Jo-Ann and I had originally planned to leave home in Huntington Beach at lunchtime on Thursday morning and drive to San Jose by about early evening. We didn’t leave until 3:30pm, meaning that we had to deal with peak hour LA traffic, which certainly did not make for an auspicious start to the weekend. We arrived at about 1:30am, having stopped twice for meals. This PantheaCon was destined to impart a similar experience to the 2012 one, with us spending a lot of time networking and being very selective in the workshops we attended.
I should point out that everyone’s PantheaCon experience is different as there is so much to choose from at any given time. Those reading this blog should not assume that my experience is in any way typical.
FRIDAY
We had intended to attend the Opening Ritual organizer Glenn Turner and Friends, but checking in, registering and visiting the Green Room (for presenters) took a little longer than expected.
I decided to attend a number of Egyptian themed presentations.
Tony Michael and Jo-Ann
At 1:30PM, Michael Smith presented “Osiris, Set, Horus: The Eternal Struggle.” Michael a.k.a. Gwydion Stormcrow, has been practicing Wicca, Magick, and various esoteric disciplines since 1989. He has been active in the pagan community since 1993 when he became a member of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel (ASW), a Wiccan organization in the Mid-Atlantic region. He is an Elder of the ASW and is currently serving as High Priest of Coven of the Rowan Star, a coven in that Tradition. He is a Priest of both Horus and Bast, and works extensively with the Egyptian deities in his personal practices where he uses a syncretic array of esoteric disciplines from Wicca and the Western magickal and shamanic traditions, and is inspired and sustained by his studies of Astrology, Qabalah, Ritual, and Natural Magick. He is also involved with the Tradition's New Alexandrian Library.
Michael discussed the popularly known myths of Osiris, Set and Horus, but there were a few lesser known insights. He reminded us that Osiris had brought civilization to Egypt. When he was victorious over Set, rather than taking back his throne, Osiris went to the West to rule the underworld, leaving the throne to his unborn son, Horus. This was his last civilizing act – introducing the principle of succession. Michael noted that Set would attract followers because of his strength and might who would invariably wind up wiped out, after which he would attract new followers. Also, a number of his followers, including the pharaoh Seti I had red hair. The colour red, is of course associated with Set.
Tamara L. Siuda and her priest
At 3:30PM, Tamara L Siuda presented “Offerings to Osiris: Sharing with the Dead.” Tamara L Siuda is an American Egyptologist and author. She is the founder and current spiritual leader of Kemetic Orthodoxy and the House of Netjer Temple, and since July 2000, she is an initiated priestess (or mambo) in Haitian Vodou.
Tamara’s short ritual involved writing the names of deceased family and friends on butcher paper. She told us to never write in red, as this is the colour sacred to Set. Rather we should write in green or black, which are the most suitable, but blue was fine as well. Tamara’s priest sprinkled water on the back of everyone’s head. Our arms were extended during prayer, much as they are in Egyptian paintings. The dead who had been prayer for, rather than being forgotten as is often the case, would then watch over us at PantheaCon. These names were then to be transferred to her temple wall where they would be remembered. Tamara’s temple prays for the dead on the 6th day of every month, and also 70 days after death.
Jo-Ann and I were very excited to be invited to the Llewellyn Author Party which was hosted by publisher Bill Krause and Senior Acquisitions Editor Elysia Gallo. The event was like a who’s who of the Pagan community. Senior Adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and prolific writers, Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero made their return appearance. We also enjoyed mingling with the other Llewellyn authors present who were (in no specific order) Mary K Greer, Amber K, Azrael Arynn K, Donald Michael Kraig and his wife Holly, Oberon Zell and his biographer John Sulak, Melanie Marquis, Rachel Pollack, River Higginbotham, Patricia Lafayllve and Edward Fitch. Other notables (in no specific order) included Selena Fox, Margot Adler, Ruth Barrett, Teo Bishop and Kat Sanborn. I apologize if I inadvertently omitted anyone.
Success!! Success!!Success!!
At 9:00PM, Richard Reidy presented “Human Deification–the Kemetic Perspective.” Richard Reidy earned a Master’s of Divinity degree in 1979. He is the author of “Eternal Egypt : Ancient Rituals for the Modern World” and founder of the Kemetic Temple of San Jose, dedicated to researching, restoring, and enacting the authentic rituals of ancient Egypt.
Richard Reidy
Richard explained that human deification is the insight that humans who have lived a genuinely good life will, upon death, be deified; that is, they will become deified beings—gods. This belief was articulated in the ancient world by the Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophers of Greece. In early Christianity it also was a very widespread belief, and there are many examples of early Church writers who held this belief. It still forms an important place in the teaching of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches around the world. Western Christian sects have forgotten this important early teaching of their church. In ancient Egypt it was the belief that humans could reach a deified state after death if they had lived good, moral lives within their community, certainly not as hermits.
SATURDAY
Tony presents 'Mithraism and the Mithras Liturgy'
Saturday began early for me as at 9:00AM, with the assistance of Jo-Ann, I presented “Mithraism and the Mithras Liturgy.” Mithraism was an almost universal religion throughout the entire Roman empire. It was the leading rival of Christianity in Rome, and was more successful in the first four centuries CE. Mithraism was a soldier religion, offering salvation based not just on faith and compassion, but high moral standards. The initiations involved ascending through seven grades of initiation, each aligned with a symbol, and a planet. The Mithras Liturgy enables the soul to return to its heavenly home by ascending past the planetary spheres and various forces by using hymns, names of power, breathing techniques and making various sounds. As a system of deification, the Mithras Liturgy followed on from Richard Reidy’s presentation “Human Deification–the Kemetic Perspective.”
After the presentation, I had a book signing during which I was able to chat to a few interesting people. This was followed by many hours of networking during which Jo-Ann and I caught up with too many people to mention.
Tony and Vivianne Crowley PhD.

At 6:00PM, the Covenant of the Goddess Suite held a reception for Vivianne Crowley PhD. Vivianne is a psychologist and was formerly a professor at the University of London, teaching psychology of religion at Master’s level and supervising PhD students. She is a Wiccan High Priestess and has been teaching Wicca and the Western Magickal Tradition internationally for thirty years. She is on the Council of the Pagan Federation where she focuses on interfaith issues. She is the author of many books on Wicca, Paganism and spiritual psychology, including “Wicca: A comprehensive guide to the Old Religion in the modern world.” She was initiated into the London coven of Alex Sanders at the age of eighteen, but later joined a Gardnerian coven in the famous Whitecroft line derived from Eleanor Bone, and so she was one of few people in the seventies to be part of both Traditions. I only had a very brief chat with Vivianne as so many others were vying for her attention, but she was very pleasant.
Jeffrey Albaugh, Jo-Ann, Aline O'Brien,
Sabina Magliocco, Tony and Jason Pitzl-Waters 
The 7:00PM timeslot was a difficult choice. Sam Webster’s The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn (OSOGD) were performing an Aphrodite devotional rite to honour the union of Hermes and Aphrodite. Richard Reidy’s Kemetic Temple of San Jose were hosting a ritual dedicated to Sekhmet, the Great One of Healing. Ruth Barrett and Holly Tannen were in Concert. I decided to attend James A Eshelman’s “Visions & Voices: Aleister Crowley’s Enochian Visions.” I had never heard James speak previously and being familiar with Crowley’s “The Vision and the Voice” was interested in what he had to say.
James A. Eshelman
James A Eshelman has been a writer and teacher of occult and metaphysical subjects since 1972, originally in the field of astrology and then in magick, mysticism, Qabalah, tarot, occult psychology, thelemic studies, and related Hermetic subjects as well. He was admitted to the A∴A∴ by Soror Meral as a probationer in 1979, and to full initiation as a neophyte in 1981. He was editor of, and a major contributor to, the College of Thelema’s biannual journal, Black Pearl, for its six-year run 1997-2002. During 13 years of membership (1979–1992) in Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), he served in numerous capacities, including founder and initial lodge master of Baphomet Lodge in Los Angeles, a member of the Board of Directors, and Deputy Grand Master General.
James pointed out that in “The Vision and the Voice” there were 30 Aethyrs which were subjected to scrying in the spirit vision in 35 separate visions, for which 33 have exact times, dates and places. He explained that the Tropical Zodiac is the one which most people, including Crowley, are familiar with, but is inaccurate because it does not take into consideration the precession of the equinoxes. The Sidereal Zodiac, on the other hand, takes precession into account and is thus much more accurate. In most cases the Sidereal Zodiac made sense of Crowley’s visions, even explaining breakthroughs. I was fascinated by James’s recommendation that people read “The Vision and the Voice” aloud so as to immerse themselves into the mindset of Crowley who transcended adepthood and crossed the Abyss. I make the same recommendation in my book regarding Gnostic texts, particularly “The Thunder, Perfect Mind.”
Sam Webster and his Herm
Jo-Ann and I then wandered into the Thelemic Hospitality Suite for a bit of socializing and then into the OSOGD Suite, where Sam Webster showed off his Herm.
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
At 11:00PM I attended the “Antinoan Dream Incubation Ritual” presented by P Sufenas Virius Lupus and Ekklesia Antinoou. P Sufenas Virius Lupus is a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou ("Citizenry of Antinous"), a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist religious group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and other related gods and divine figures. He is also a very prolific author.
In the Hellenistic era, dream incubation temples were very popular as they facilitated contact with the divine, often with the aim of healing. The aim of the ritual was to honour Antinous as a moon-god and have him visit our dreams after the ritual ended through the use of chanting and other practices. Lupus uses the same Graeco-Egyptian spells that I use, and I particularly enjoyed hearing him chanting words of power which I am very familiar with. Lupus stated that he has multiple health problems and no health insurance, and thus owes his very life to Antinous. Their mutual devotion is inspiring. This is what Lupus had to say about his dream incubation and the other two rituals he was involved in.
SUNDAY
Llewellyn Publishing Panel
At 9AM, Jo-Ann and I attended the “Publishing for Pagans” panel which was hosted by publisher Bill Krause and Senior Acquisitions Editor Elysia Gallo of Llewellyn Worldwide. Authors Donald Michael Kraig, Kenny Klein and Lupa shared their insights.
The panel was aimed at Pagans wishing to be published, offering an insider’s viewpoint - where and how to submit your proposal, the timeline and the process involved. There were also practical tips on the importance of establishing a public profile. While the focus was on Llewellyn, there was also a brief overview of small publishing companies which are able to take risks on non-mainstream interest texts, as well as the self-publishing option.
Tony, Christopher and Jo-Ann
In the audience was Christopher Penczak, with whom I chatted after the panel was over. Chris told me about his challenges in meeting local codes to open a new Temple of Witchcraft parking space. He needs funding and is asking for donations. If anyone can assist, here is the link to donate. Putting this into perspective, Peter Dybing has written that establishing a lasting Pagan temple space will benefit the entire community, and we should start thinking of ourselves as a national body rather than small isolated regional bodies.
Wendy Rule, Margot Adler, Don Frew,
Selena Fox, Patrick McCollum and Starhawk  
At 11:00AM, I attended the “Paganism Around the World” panel with Starhawk, Margot Adler, Selena Fox, Don Frew, Patrick McCollum and Wendy Rule.
Starhawk was feeling sick and so spoke first, leaving quickly when her short speech was over. Starhawk is the author of “The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess” (1979) and the founder of the Reclaiming Collective. She works internationally as a trainer in nonviolence and direct action, and as an activist within the peace movement, women's movement, environmental movement, and anti-globalization movement. She gives lectures and workshops in North America, Europe and the Middle East, where she worked with Israeli and Palestinian women in the Gaza strip.
Margot Adler is an American author, journalist, lecturer, Wiccan priestess, radio journalist and correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR). Her book, “Drawing Down the Moon,” (1979) provided the first comprehensive look at modern nature-based religions in the US.
Selena Fox is a psychotherapist, teacher, writer, photographer, ritual performance artist, and Priestess. She is founder and co-executive director of Circle Sanctuary, an international Nature Spirituality resource center headquartered on a 200-acre Nature preserve in southwestern Wisconsin. She is one of America's best known Pagan elders, networkers, and civil liberties activists. She is founder of Circle Network, Lady Liberty League (which provides religious freedom support for Wiccans, Pagans, and other Nature religion practitioners worldwide), and the Pagan Academic Network. Over the years, Selena and her work have been extensively covered by the mass media.
Don Frew is a figure in American Wicca, the Covenant of the Goddess, national and international interfaith work, and scholarship. He is a National Interfaith Representative for the Covenant of the Goddess. Don discussed his extensive work in South America where rapidly growing numbers of people are returning to their Pagan roots but in a form which would be considered strange by American Pagans, due in no small part to the language barrier. The South Americans are resurrecting almost forgotten Pagan traditions and syncretizing them with the Christian practices that they had been brought up with. Don stated that he preferred to describe himself as a Wiccan rather than a Witch as it has less baggage. A Witch is often understood as someone uttering curses and mixing poisons. Don stated that it was always important to remain respectful of local traditions, in response to a question about tourists performing rituals and leaving crystals, thereby upsetting energy balances.
Patrick McCollum is a Wiccan minister and presenter on Pagan topics, prison chaplain, author and jeweler. He is dedicated to being a warrior for human rights, social justice, and pluralism. Patrick McCollum has been working as a Pagan chaplain and activist for well over twenty years. He was one of the founding members of the Lady Liberty League, and has been involved in numerous legal struggles involving modern Pagans. Patrick had just returned from the Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river, and the world's largest religious gathering, with almost 100 million people in attendance. Patrick was an honoured guest who represented the Pagan community. He told an amusing story where he went off to the river to celebrate Imbolc. He informed the curious swami what he was doing, whereupon he found himself joined by 100,000 Hindus. Patrick also echoed Don’s words about the need to be respectful of local traditions.
Talented Australian musical artist, Wendy Rule, voiced her thoughts about meeting Pagans while on tour in the USA, the UK and Australia.
Amy Hale 
At 1:30PM, Jo-Ann and I attended the “To Thoth Hermes Mercury” ritual presented by The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn (OSOGD). The OSOGD is an initiatory teaching Order drawing upon the knowledge, experience, practices and spirit of the system of magical training and attainment developed by the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The OSOGD was founded by Sam Webster in 2002 and based on the principles of open-source software movement. Sam Webster, M Div, Mage, trained at Meadville/Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago and Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and is a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol, UK. He is an Adept of the Golden Dawn, founding the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn and a cofounder of the Chthonic-Ouranian Templars of Thelema, as well as an initiate of Wiccan, Buddhist and Hindu lines. He serves the Pagan community principally as a priest of Hermes.
The OSOGD and friends
The OSOGD had been using a portion of their suite as a shrine to Hermes in preparation for this ritual. A large wooden Herm was installed in the shrine room and animated on Friday night, by inviting the Spirit of Hermes to indwell the 6ft long wooden Herm. On Sunday, they processed from the suite to the ritual area, gathering priestfolk as they went. It’s true to say that this was the most elaborate ritual I have attended in quite a few years. I could say that it was bigger than Ben Hur with a cast of thousands, but I’ve been told at least a million times to not exaggerate. There were about 30 people directly involved in the ritual, including a small choir singing a catchy rendition of The Orphic Hymn to Hermes. Hermes was honoured as Mercury and Thoth as well as himself. Due honours were rendered to the Lord of Information, as he was called in the ritual, and all had the opportunity to pour him libation, commune and receive blessing.
It was then time for more socializing.
At 7:00PM, Jo-Ann and I attended the “Working the Well of Magic in Witchery and Faery Practice” jointly presented by Orion Foxwood and Peter Paddon.
Orion Foxwood and Peter Paddon
Orion was born with “the veil” (a localized term for the second sight) in Winchester Virginia, an area located in the Shenandoah Valley that is rife with folklore, ghost tales and folk magic. His culture is Southern and Appalachian. Although Orion has many feathers in his cap, including that of a Traditional Witch, Alexandrian Wiccan High Priest, Elder and Mantle Carrier for an Old Religionist Craft Lineage, and Faery Seer, it was his skills as a Conjurer in Southern Root Doctoring Practices that were relevant for this weekend intensive. While growing up in Virginia, he learned Southern folk magic, which is a true traditional living folk magic tradition that is a synergy of European, Native American and African magical techniques and folklore.
Peter is a Brit of Welsh ancestry who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Linda, where he is Magister of Briar Rose, a small Coven of modern Cunningfolk. Aside from being an author, Peter also created the Craftwise series of spellcasting DVDs, and is the host of the Crooked Path podcast. Having many years of experience in various forms of Occult Studies, including Alexandrian Wicca, the Egyptian Mysteries, Rosicrucianism and Enochian magick, Peter finally found what he had been looking for all his life in the two Traditional Covens he became a member of in the US. The first was the Roebuck (1734, Clan of Tubal Cain), under Ann and Dave Finnin, and the second was Wildewood Grove (Welsh Celtic Tradition), under its Mistress, Raven Womack. Peter discusses his PantheaCon experiences here.
Peter and Orion co-presented "Working the Well of Magick." Orion told Peter that the only other person he has co-presented with is R J Stewart, so the pressure was on. Two ballrooms were combined by pulling back the movable dividing wall, and packed with over four hundred participants. Peter shared the art and philosophy of the Well from the perspective of traditional Witchcraft, and Orion from Faery Seership and Appalachian Conjure. They finished with a group working, where all the participants danced the serpentine around well and stang, and threw their coins in the well, and tied a string on the stang. Buoyed by their success, Peter and Orion and keen to co-present more workshops in the future.
Jo-Ann and I spent the evening socializing.
MONDAY
While there were a number of interesting workshops on offer, Jo-Ann and I only had time to co-present our own workshop. There were issues to attending to immediately before and packing immediately afterwards.
Tony  presenting
'Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love' workshop
At 11:00AM, Jo-Ann and I presented “Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.” Aphrodite appears to be of Phoenician origin, and was originally a fertility goddess. As time went on, Aphrodite became perceived as a goddess of love and beauty, while her former role as a goddess of agriculture went to Demeter. In art, the best known representations of Aphrodite were unclothed and either rising out of the sea or a bath, or as objects of feminine beauty. She presided over marriage and prostitution, but had numerous other roles including warfare and bestowing victory. Aphrodite had a wrathful side to her nature where she punished people who failed to give her due worship or failed to honor pledges. To truly understand her, she was invoked in a traditional Greek religious style using an Orphic Hymn and two Homeric Hymns. She was then invoked using Graeco-Egyptian Magick.
Ruth Barrett and Selena Fox
After packing our vehicle, there was time for some sad goodbyes after which we began the long drive back to Huntington Beach.

8 comments:

  1. I attended the presentation on Mithraism and thought it excellent. I've become increasingly interested of late in theurgy and in rites of ascent, so it's quite apposite. I'd very much like to attend one or more of your planetary workshops, should you ever be presenting any in the bay area.

    I missed the workshop on Aphrodite, for - alas! - my friend and I lost our badges on Monday AM as they were whisked away in the glove compartment of the car that dropped us off.

    I have a theological/magical/philosophical question for you, Tony. I notice that in the workshop format on The Magick of Alexandria website you place Aion in the ninth and highest sphere, above even that of the stars. Do you think it's valid to syncretize Aion to Phanes? I notice they share several of the same attributes: the world egg or egg of Nyx, the entwining serpent, the staff or scepter, and what appears to be an association with some kind of primal fire. The only differences I've spotted are the facts that Phanes is born from the egg whereas Aion is standing upon it, and that Aion has his lion's head. Do you see Phanes Protogenos and Eternity as separate and distinct, or are they connected in some way? I ask for purposes of my own magical practice, which currently includes Phanes.

    Kevin

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your kind words about my Mithraism talk. Ascent is also of great interest to me. It was widely practiced by a number of spiritual traditions in late antiquity. I actually gave a presentation on it at TheurgiCon 2012:
      http://theurgicon.com/?page_id=192
      http://themagickofalexandria.blogspot.com/2012/07/theurgicon-2012.html

      In response to your question regarding Aion and Phanes, I wanted to point out that when you say Aion, you’re obviously referring to the Leontocephalic Kronos / Chronos (lion-headed figure). While this is what a number of scholars believe (and also what I believe), there are voices of dissent, notably R C Zaehner who identified it with Ahriman. I’m quite convinced by M J Vermaseren who states that the lion-headed figure is the Time-god called Aion by the Greeks and Zervan / Zurvan by the Persians. Vermaseren points out that the lion-headed figure is very complex and has connections with numerous deities. Roger Beck suggests that the lion-headed figure may not be a single being, but could be a “complex of shifting but linked ideas expressed in a set of iconographically related images.”

      The most relevant material for you, however, comes from David Ulansey’s “The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries”, pages 120-4. He points out that there are striking similarities between the lion-headed figure and the Orphic Phanes. Phanes actually has a lion’s head on his chest. There are also similarities between Phanes and some representations of Mithras, especially one where he emerges out of an egg surrounded by the zodiac. There is also a representation of Aion, the Hellenistic time-god, represented as a man surrounded by the wheel of the zodiac. Clearly there are major overlaps in iconography, probably indicating syncretization between all these gods, making the situation very complex indeed. I’m not sure if there’s a definitive answer as to whether Aion and Phanes are separate but having influence upon each other, or connected in some way [almost like the soft versus hard polytheism debate]. Clearly the Mithraists saw them sufficiently connected as to portray them with significant shared iconography. Personally, I feel that Aion and Phanes are sufficiently connected that an augmented understanding of one would shed further light on the other.

      It’s a shame that you couldn’t get into the Aphrodite invocation. It was, however, the same invocation I’ve running for 12 years, with the greatest difference being the inclusion of a PowerPoint presentation. Just about all the material is in my book, whereas the invocation is on the accompanying CD.

      I have no immediate plans for running any workshops in the Bay Area. I normally present at TheurgiCon which will be sometime in July, but this hasn’t been confirmed as yet.

      Best,

      Tony

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  2. Thanks Tony for that very thorough and thoughtful response. I'd forgotten about the lion's head on Phanes' chest, but now that you mention it I recall being struck by that feature in photos of the Phanes relief in Modena, Italy.

    http://www.visionealchemica.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/phanes-modena.jpg

    I think I've also seen an example of the type of image of Aion that you've described, in which he's represented as a young man standing within - and, I suppose, presumably ruling over - the wheel of the Zodiac:

    http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/Z15.2B.html

    One feature that stands out for me about the leonine Aion is that the orb (or egg?) he bestrides, bound by what appear to be intersecting celestial circles, strongly resembles the orb wielded by monarchs in so many imperial portraits down the centuries. Theoi(dot)com informs me that Phanes, who so resembles him, was the first king of the universe, and since the lion also is a traditional royal symbol (as well as a Solar one), it too seems to me to support the idea of rulership. Theoi(dot)com further states that "The Orphics equated Phanes with the Elder Eros... of Hesiod's Theogony," so to my way of thinking it just gets better and better.

    I attended Theurgicon last July and so was able to hear your presentation, which I very much enjoyed. I hope to attend the next one as well. I'd very much like to get your book and CD and start putting your instructions into practice right away, but I can only find the book on Amazon, and the CD not at all. I'd much prefer to buy them through your website, but currently that link doesn't appear to be working. With a little luck maybe I'll be able to pick them up at Theurgicon.

    All the best, and please keep up the excellent work.

    Kevin

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  3. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for the wonderful links.

    Yes, the Aion (Hellenistic time-god) picture does have him surrounded by the wheel of the zodiac, a representation shared by the other deities we’ve been discussing. I agree this it probably does indicate rulership over the zodiac.

    Ulansey sees your “intersecting celestial circles” as the point(s) where the circle of the celestial equator crosses the circle of the zodiac:
    http://www.mysterium.com/mithras.html

    I totally agree with you that the more you look into the symbolism, the more you find. There is just so much to explore, and without a definitive guide all we can do try to arrange the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle as best as we can.

    Thanks for your kind words about my last TheurgiCon presentation.

    The CD is only available through my website, whereas there are numerous possibilities for purchasing the book. There are numerous issues with the website which we haven’t been able to fix. While the statement “Please send an email requesting cost of shipping” looks like a link, it’s not - it’s just a statement. The important information is above it: “Send PayPal Payment to Scheduling at Hermetic Magick dot com” That is the address both for PayPal payments as well as for queries. Many people have made this mistake and hopefully we’ll eventually be able to make everything a bit more obvious.
    http://www.hermeticmagick.com/content/books&cd.html

    Regards,

    Tony

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  4. Hi Tony. I have one more question for you. I meant to ask this on Facebook, but I'm somewhat allergic to FB, and find that I prefer to ask it here.

    I wish to animate or ensoul several images of my own creation. I have in mind images of the Greek planetary deities, as well as Dionysus and others in the Greek tradition. I would like to create or reconstruct a ritual that is as close as possible to what would have been done by Graeco-Egyptian magicians, or by those practicing the theurgy of Iamblichus. In your opinion, is there sufficient relevant material in the Papyri Graecae Magicae to reconstruct such a ritual? If so, are there any passages in that work to which I should particularly direct my attention? If not, where else might I look?

    I'm aware of prodecures from the PGM for creating small statues of Hermes, such as the one to be made of yellow wax for purposes of attracting business, but am not sure how it might be adapted to my purpose, which is to create a series of shrines, perhaps even a temple.

    I gather that the best preserved such ritual is that for the Opening of the Mouth and Eyes, but this appears to be exclusively adapted to Egyptian deities - although I gather that it is ancestral to similar rites that would have been practiced by Graeco-Egyptian magicians. Can you suggest where I might best look for the purposes I have in mind?

    I'm looking forward to your next presentation at Theurgicon.

    Kevin

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kevin,

      Once a statue is animated, it is effectively a living thing. Without wishing to sound disrespectful to the deity concerned, a useful analogy is that of having a pet - which requires daily care, and cannot be enjoyed periodically whilst being subjected to lengthy periods of neglect. Egyptian priests were very aware of this and would tend to their statues daily. Daily care is much easier to accomplish when a team is involved. In a modern day setting, you would have to either take your animated statues with you when you travel, or have someone come over and perform devotional rites in your absence.

      At a minimum, if you have a series of Greek planetary deities, you would need to perform devotions to them on the appropriate day of the week, assuming that you’re using the solar calendar of late antiquity. Of course if you’re using the lunar calendar of the ancient Greeks the game changes.

      Iamblichus did not leave us with any actual ritual texts. Thus, everyone wishing to perform an animation has to do their own research and experimentation. While there is not sufficient relevant material in the PGM to reconstruct an animation, there are some tantalizing pointers.

      Firstly, within the “the Great Magical Papyrus in Paris” [PGM IV] there are five necromantic spells allegedly copied from a letter from the Thessalian king Pitys to the Persian mage Ostanes. The papyrus copy is believed to have been made in the fourth century CE, while its contents are thought to derive from the second century CE. These are reanimations employing just skulls or “talking heads,” possibly derived from the archaic period with the myth of Orpheus’s talking head. It has been argued that corpse reanimations were actually elaborations of necromantic rituals employing skulls. These involve forcing a spirit back into its skull for the purpose of divination. Obviously we’re dealing with a spirit rather than a deity, but importantly, the spirit is forced into its own body, for which there is an affinity.

      Secondly, as you pointed out, there are the procedures from the PGM for creating small statues of Hermes. These are not animations, but rather empowerments of a statue with the influence of Hermes to improve commerce. The theme of affinity is very evident. It should be remembered that in Egypt, the Greeks identified Hermes with Thoth, who was represented in two forms – the sacred ibis the dog-faced baboon. In each of these spells, the required statue is that of Hermes or Thoth with Hermes attributes. Each statue and/or its shrine (if required) uses construction materials of which at least one is aspected to Hermes. This can be either olive, ebony, or juniper wood, something orange (like orange beeswax), or the contents of an ibis egg (if available). While ebony would appear to be the most appropriate material, its hardness would limit its usage. The spells require the burning of an unidentified incense – I would use cassia. I’d also incorporate the number 4 as it is sacred to Hermes.

      Combing through the PGM material will yield further ideas, but I hope that this is enough to get you started.

      The “Opening of the Mouth” ritual as you point out would be ideal for the next step in animation, but is specific to Egyptian deities. As you know, late antiquity was a time of experimentation and blending of disparate techniques. The PGM are a product of the blending of five magickal streams – Greek, Egyptian, Sumerian, Babylonian and Jewish, with occasional Christian references. I would assume that magickians of the time would definitely have used the Opening of the Mouth ritual, adapting it for non-Egyptian deities, although there is no evidence for this. It is important to note that the number of spells which survived the pious burnings of magickal books instigated by the founding fathers of the Christian church is very small, so we do the best with what we have.

      I wish you all the best in your quest.

      Tony

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    2. Because of the length of my last comment, I had to leave out a very important paragraph, as there are limitations on the total number of characters. Here’s what I had to cut out:

      Richard Reidy gave an excellent presentation on animation at the last TheurgiCon. The bibliography in his handout is a wonderful resource for further research. If you no longer have your copy, I’m sure Richard could email you an electronic version. When I contacted Richard about your query, he suggested that you read "Philosophy & Theurgy in Late Antiquity," by Algis Uzdavinys, Head of the Dept. of Humanities at Vilnius Academy, Lithuania:
      http://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Theurgy-Late-Antiquity-ebook/dp/B005LCYQ9I

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  5. I can't thank you enough Tony for the excellent information, and for referring my question to Richard. I'll be referencing the PGM and Professor Uzdavinys' book, as you suggest. I'll aim for the less demanding empowerment as embodied in Hermes figures that you mention, to begin with at any rate.

    I'd like to respond at greater length, but at the moment my only web access is by cell phone and this one-fingered typing is a bit problematic. All the best!

    Kevin

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